Troubled by labour shortages and transportation challenges in the wake of the pandemic, Himachal Pradesh fruit growers have now urged the federal government to take steps to check the sale of apples and kiwi fruit from Iran and Turkey that are coming onto fruit markets across the country.
This year has been tough for apple growers. Himachal’s Rs 4.5 bln (€50 mln) apple industry some 165,000 families. The primary concern of fruit growers this season was the labour shortage, with skilled Nepalese labourers unable to return in time due to the sealed borders. The apple orchardists managed with local labour and worked overtime as harvest got off to a slow start in mid-July.
Growers now fear that unregulated and uncontrolled imports from Iran and Turkey could have an impact on the apple prices.
Lokinder Singh Bisht, the president of the Progressive Growers Association: “Uncontrolled and unregulated cheap imports of kiwis and apples from these countries is affecting our realisation from the market. Most of the imports with sanctions are routed through hawala transactions, undervaluing the fruit to ride over the 33% tax barrier of import duty. Besides the quarantine inspections are overlooked and the fruit is being dumped in third grade plastic, becoming an environmental hazard.”
As reported on hindustantimes.com¸ Bisht has written to federal Commerce minister Piyush Goyal to draw his attention towards the issue.